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Oct 14, 2008

Capello denies opposition to Bernabeu visit

England manager Fabio Capello has denied suggestions from the FA that he backed their refusal to play a proposed friendly against Spain next February at the Bernabéu. Four-years ago some of England's black players were racially abused in Real Madrid's stadium during an international friendly against La Selección and FA officials advised their Spanish counterparts there is no way they could countenance a game at the same venue.

An FA spokesman said on Monday that the England manager had been consulted and had agreed with its policy but Capello, who spent two successful terms as Real Madrid manager, most recently in 2006/07, disagrees.

"It's a mistake by the director of communications of the English federation. I don't know how my name has appeared in all this," Capello told Marca.

"Why would I not want to play in the Bernabeu? It's my home. Everybody knows that I love Spain, I have a house in Marbella and I love Madrid, a marvellous city where I have spent two great years.

"I don't decide where England play, it's a decision of the English federation which they will have to agree with the Spanish.

"For me I don't mind where we play, and of course if it is the Bernabeu, then all the better."

Capello's comments emerged on the same day UEFA forced Atletico Madrid to play their next two Champions League games 300 kilometres from the Spanish capital due to the racist abuse Marseille received there on their recent visit.

The FA's director of communications, Adrian Bevington, who claimed Capello was in full agreement with the organisation's position, confirmed he had got it wrong.

"It was an oversight to include Fabio's name and say he shared the same view about it," said Bevington.

"His role is purely to select opponents."

However, as England coach, it could also be argued Capello cannot ignore the racism issue no matter what his personal view of Madrid as a city.

The England players have backed the FA's stance, especially as Emile Heskey bore the brunt of similar abuse in Croatia last month.

William Gaillard, special adviser to UEFA president Michel Platini, said he understood why England's players may be reluctant to return to Madrid.

Gaillard said: "I understand the players' fears. That is exactly why we are acting with renewed strength - to make sure that in the future England players will not be threatened by this kind of behaviour.

"We think sanctions like the ones we have taken are conducive to making it possible for clubs and national teams to play in Madrid without this kind of threat of racist behaviour."

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